Diary – Monday 6 February 1995


A Sheffield University survey has released evidence of sexual harassment and racism at the Bar. That it should have taken m’learned friends 10 years longer than everyone else to realise this has, I feel, something to do with the unworldliness of their profession. Only the other evening, I was sitting in a restaurant next to a table of four barristers – two men and two women. The conversation was all about how they wanted to improve race relations at the Bar. “The thing is,” said one man in his forties, “that whenI see a black barrister, I want to be able to think of him (clearly, they weren’t discussing sexism) as a barrister first and black second.” Hearty applause.

Seconds later, he summoned the waitress. “Excuse me, but where do I find transport to take me home?” The waitress looked somewhat startled, the time being 11.30pm and the venue central London. “You could get a taxi,” she ventured timidly. “And how,” riposted the man, “do I do that?” His friends, looking faintly astonished, gestured towards the street.